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Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Leo Cooper Ltd; New edition edition (1 Mar 2005)
This is a classic for any student of the Bomber Offensive of WW2. Written by Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur Harris - 'Butch' to his crews, 'Bomber' to you and me, how better to gain insight into the thinking (at least, his) behind the development and prosecution of the Bomber Offensive. Written in the 'clipped' tone of the time - and totally outrageous at times to modern thinking - but irrefutable - after all, he gave the orders! Almost certainly he became obsessed with the concept of 'flattening' the major German cities, even when it was quite obvious, even at the time, that the impact of bombing oil and communications produced more crippling results on the ability of the enemy to continue to wage war. Well worth reading.
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This is a nice piece dating from 1947. It is a frank and personal account. Harris is an overconfident victor of WWII, and he is not ashamed of telling his view of how he (almost) won the second world war, singlehandedly. When this book was written, the concept "politically correct" had not yet been coined, and today Harris would be in trouble with his language: Germans are idiots, and so are the French. The civil servants in the Air ministry and Ministry of aircraft production are bunglers. Colonial crankshots from all parts of the British Empire do get some credit, and Harris is fond of the Americans, and only rarely is he calling them morons. Harris was trained at Staff college, but he despises the cavalry mentality that was ingrained in the education. Interservice rivalries are given a frank expose, with the Admiralty playing the part of the villain. Harris completely ignores scientific advice and is not able to understand anti-submarine uses of bombers; to him it only diverts his resources from offensive that will break Germany.
Harris is a field commander who does not delve into deep discussions about morality of war or impact of his operations. It remains a mystery why Harris thought that RAF area bombings could destroy the German morale, because he had witnessed himself that the London blitz or Coventry bombing did not have the desired effect on the British morale.
Harris is fond of quoting Albert Speer to show how much damage bombing did to German war effort. But Harris is extremely selective, so it is good to quote other comments by Speer, for instance on attacks on ball bearing industry: "But already in the connection of the first attack enemy made a crucial mistake: instead of concentrating his efforts on ball bearings, it divided its forces...Read more ›